(For Part I about the console war, click here.)
Our second installment in the coverage of the 2013 E3 convention looks at the second most important part of the convention: the games. After all, Part I was about the flashy new consoles, but what is a console without games to play it on? Well, yes, the PS4 and the Xbox One are more about home entertainment than just games, but having a console launch with no games is like going to a McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD) with no Big Macs…worthless. Fortunately for us, Day 2 of E3 was the time for game developers to shine after the fireworks of the console-heavy Day 1, and if the previews and stunning graphics are any indicator, customers and investors are sure to be satisfied.
EA: It’s Really in the Game
Always making sense regardless of what the rest of the convention has to offer is Electronic Arts, the company behind iconic franchises like Madden and Battlefield. Typically the go-to company for games that encourage social behavior, they put out a flashy press conference that wowed the crowd with next-gen ready games and franchise reboots.
In the sports department, the highest-grossing segment of EA’s work, the new Madden NFL 25 and a reboot of the NBA Live franchise gave people a lot to cheer about. Set to be released for the current consoles as well as the new-ones, EA emphasized more realistic gameplay and graphics that give the user more connectivity and precision in the games. The reboot of NBA Live will give users more dribble control for players and more realistic motions and crowd noises, so it feels more like a real basketball game. For Madden, EA claims they have quadrupled the texturing in the game’s graphics, as well as created more dynamic offensive and defensive lines with greater AI responsiveness and better control of the field of play. Both games will be available on the PC and current consoles, but only the PS4 and Xbox One will carry the new Ignite software engine that increases the physical reality the games offer; they will both be considered “launch titles” for the two new consoles.
Getting away from sports, EA got very busy this year with its other hits. The new sequel to the successful Battlefield series was released, and graphically it takes advantage of the powerful new consoles but also has a feature that allows the user to command the troops using a tablet, so the game can be played away from home as well. This is a good move by Battlefield because it recognizes the increasing usage of tablets by gamers and the appeal of being able to play console games on the go, which keeps not only console gaming in the forefront of gamers’ minds but also shares the stage with the newest technological designs.
Another mainstay of E3 is the presence of Call of Duty, made by Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI), and this year was no exception with Ghosts, the latest offering from the CoD empire. As popular as the franchise is, it has taken some criticism for repetitive gameplay that has mainly involved running around and firing machine guns. While that is a turn-on for a lot of gamers, it does lose its appeal after a while, even when the games offer better graphics and increased multiplayer options. For Ghosts, Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) made some significant changes that keep the franchise fresh. In terms of combat, there is more emphasis on guerilla tactics and stealth, a noticeable departure from the guns-a-blazing approach to previous incarnations. Abilities to hide behind walls and leapfrog them have been streamlined for less button-mashing, and the landscapes are the most realistic of any first person shooter. This provides amazing cover for stealth fighting, as well as an environment that reacts with the gameplay as close to real life as possible, including dings on machine guns and the effects of wind on one’s clothing. While these are small details, it helps the user get more into the game, which is the feeling that should naturally come with a first person shooter, and will give Ghosts a big leg up in the tough shooter market.